Where Is Our Impact?

Why aren’t we making a difference? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I don’t remember where I heard it, but I heard someone over the weekend talking about how a small group like the transgenders have such a big impact. They’re right. 20 years ago I never would have thought that I would have to defend the idea that men are men and women are women. I never would have thought I would have to defend marriage as a union of a man and a woman. Yet today, these things that were believed for thousands of years by everyone have been called into question.

Let’s look at statistics. It’s my understand that transgenders or people who claim such I should say are actually about .3% of the population. I think homosexuals are really 2-3%. Some sources more leftist indicate a 10% of the population. Let’s suppose that that is true. That’s still definitely a minority.

And what have these people done? When I fill out surveys online, many times when I get to the question of sex or gender, I see categories put up there for transgender people or people who have been convinced that gender is something fluid that you can just change or is a social construct.

What about the homosexual movement? How many countries around the world are now redefining marriage? This is something we never would have thought possible to happen a few decades ago and yet now we seem to have a new normal going on.

What did these people do? They spoke out. They demanded. They used the media. They used the entertainment industry. They were vocal about what they believed and they shared it. There’s a joke that a transgender, a homosexual, and a vegan walk into a bar. I only know about this because they told everyone within five minutes of entering.

Now let’s compare this to Christians. We have so many churches all across our country. We make up a decent percentage of the population, but let’s go light. Let’s say Christians only make up 40% of the population. So what are we doing?

We are the ones who are often marginalized and cast down in society and seen as the backwards people. If anything, we’ve probably done something to earn that image. We’re usually known for what we stand against and not what we stand for. Christians are anti-gay, anti-transgender, anti-science, anti-sex, anti-progress, anti-whatever it is out there.

Instead, we fail to get out the message that we are really pro-things. Christians are not anti-sex. We should be the most pro-sex people out there. We have the Song of Songs after all! We just value sex so much that we think it should be used in the proper time and place. Like all people, we put barriers around the things that matter to us.

We need to use the media to the best of our advantage. Can Christians please make decent movies and video games and TV shows sometime? Believe it or not, you don’t have to explicitly state the Gospel in every single thing you do. C.S. Lewis never did that in his works and yet those works have stood the test of time. A number of atheists can even easily enjoy the Narnia series.

And you know, maybe sometimes we should make good content just because it’s good content. You don’t have to make everything into evangelism. Be good at what you do regardless and you will draw attention to yourself.

Definitely, we need a more informed populace. We need to know what Christianity is, why it’s true, and why it matters. If the average Christian cannot articulate a basic defense of Christianity and what difference it makes, then they are not prepared. I still remember to this day a lady in a small group I was in who said, “I’m saved and my children are saved so I’m just waiting for Jesus to come.” A lady like this is part of the problem. What about if your kids go to college and lose their faith? What about everybody else’s kids?

We Christians are way too focused on our own selves and looking out for ourselves instead of going out there and changing the world. We can say the homosexuals and transgenders and progressives have a false gospel, but it doesn’t help us to do that because at least they are out there sharing it. They are more true to a false gospel and we are false to the true gospel.

Most of the media we make when we make it anyway is for us. Christian movies are made for Christians. Other people aren’t going to see them so we’re just preaching to the choir. When Fifty Shades of Grey came out, right alongside it came Old-Fashioned where the guy wouldn’t even be in the same room with the girl in the trailers at least. Guess which one the world was more interested in. That’s not saying Christians should make movies like Fifty Shades, but we should make a movie that people would want to see and would show Christianity as something that they would not only want, but at least want to be true.

Definitely every church needs to teach some apologetics. Every church should have at least one go-to person in the congregation for apologetics. Larger churches will need more. Every church should have someone they can call when Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons come by. (Speaking of being true to a false gospel, they tend to do more evangelism than we do.) Definitely, youth need to be trained up long before they are ready to go off to college.

It’s bizarre to me that we can have events about how to divorce-proof your marriage or how to be a good parent or how to get out of financial debt, and we should, but we so rarely have them on why Christianity is true and what difference it makes. It’s as if the only reason to be a Christian is to have a good marriage, be a good parent, and live debt free. Do those things, but don’t forget the engine behind them.

While we disagree with those other groups, let’s admit that we can learn something from them. We should definitely not do anything immoral, but we can learn how to do evangelism better. We can learn how to use media and culture better. We have nothing less at stake than the lives of countless souls all over the world.

Think it’s worth it?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/21/2019

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I came across my guest in an unusual way. A Christian friend of mine shared an interesting article on a Christian defense of Dungeons and Dragons. Now I was intrigued since I played growing up and I know several Christians today who still do. I’m still heavily involved in role-playing games, though these are all video games.

The article was a good one and lo and behold, written by a professor at a Christian university. I was intrigued. I also realized that this was a person I had heard of before. He was interviewed by Mary Jo Sharp in her book Why I Still Believe to talk about beauty.

So I thought getting in touch with him would be a simple matter. We could talk about the interaction of Christianity and culture and about beauty as well. After all, could it be that those who are seeing the devil in everything and repelling from the culture are doing more harm than good in the long run?

I reached out to him then and he was delighted to come on the show. We set the date and as you can imagine, it will be this Saturday. We will be talking about the interaction of Christ and culture and straight from Houston Baptist University, my guest will be Philip Tallon.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Dr. Tallon is the assistant professor of theology at Houston Baptist University. He got his PhD in theology at the University of St. Andrews.

Dr. Tallon is a member of the Honors College faculty and Chair of the Apologetics Department. Both areas of service allow him to explore the intersection of theology, philosophy, and the arts: helping students to understand the Lordship of Jesus over “every square inch” of creation.

Dr. Tallon’s primary areas of research are in Christian theology and theological aesthetics. He is especially interested in doing ‘theology through the arts,’ which examines how the arts can reorient and enrich our understanding of Christian truth.

We’ll be talking about beauty, play, and culture. How do we find God in all of these things? What is the way that Christians are to interact with culture? Could there be danger in seeing a devil behind everything that seems contrary to us?

I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode. We are almost completely caught up with episodes after all. Please also go and leave a positive review on iTunes for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Primal Screams

What do I think of Mary Eberstadt’s book published by Templeton Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Wolves are not solitary animals. They travel in packs. They form families. They have tribes. They work together in a community. People might have believed the lone wolf was typical some time ago, but today those who know animals know that that is a myth.

People also tend to travel in tribes. For most of us, the first tribe is the family, but what happens if the family isn’t a tribe? What happens if the family is in disarray? What happens if you don’t know who your Dad is and you don’t have siblings to relate to and Mom is bringing home a new man on a regular basis?

Our culture has changed drastically since the sexual revolution, which is what Mary Eberstadt is writing about in this book. In the past, it was the norm for sexual behavior to take place between a husband and a wife in marriage. Today, no more. In the past, you used to see a man and a woman go into a room in a movie and heard a lock click and you knew what was going on. Today, you have to see them taking each other’s clothes off because that’s the only way you can know what is happening.

This leaves men and women wondering what it means to be a man and a woman, especially our young people. Is it any wonder there’s so much confusion? If I don’t know who I am, I will jump at any chance to have a rock I can put my identity on. I need something stable. This also assumes that God is not there properly understood. We are alone in a universe adrift and we have to figure out how we’re going to make it.

So here comes individualism and identity politics. Why do we have so many people running to safe places and talking about being offended and cultural appropriation? Because they really feel unsafe, they are offended, and they do think their culture is being taken from them. We’ve heard them complain about this and we have called them snowflakes, but how many of us have considered that while we disagree with what they’re saying, they really are convinced of it?

After all, if your culture defines you, what happens if someone tries to take your culture for themselves? They are really attacking your identity. How can that make you you if I can take it for myself? You thnk you need a safe place because you think you as a person are under attack. You see yourself being offended because you think you again are being attacked.

In this culture, men don’t know what it means to be men. Men don’t really know how to approach women and how to treat them. Big shock that they’re trying to just demonstrate their manhood and they think the best way to do that is to conquer as many women as possible, which leads to women becoming notches on bedposts. Pornography isn’t such a big deal then if women are just bodies to bring about pleasure.

Women also don’t know how to handle men. What does a woman think is going to happen when any man invites her to a hotel room for the night? The MeToo movement has shown that many women are not aware of how to handle things. Could women have come forward en masse because women didn’t know they were allowed to do that? Did women think this is par for the course with men? Did they also think that because men failed to be protectors and instead solely became predators? After all, in many of these stories about women being assaulted in some way, where are the good men?

This thinking also leads to transgenderism. Why not? The lines between the sexes have blurred so much that there is now getting to hardly be any distinction between them. As it turns out, now men are truly superior at everything. Men are superior at being women.

So it is that we have a culture that does not know who it is and Eberstadt’s book is sounding the alarm. The wolves normally don’t travel alone. Sometimes they leave the tribe for whatever reason and then you hear their primal screams of abandonment.

The culture is screaming.

Let’s do something about it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Christian Delusion Chapter 1

How do religion and culture interact? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Christian Delusion is a book edited by a guy named John…oh….what’s his name?…..Oh yeah. Loftus! He takes several atheist authors and puts them together in yet another appeal to show Christianity is wrong. Let’s see how well it measures up.

David Eller is the first one who writes about the culture of Christianities. At the start, he says every argument in support of religion has been shown to be inconclusive or demonstrably false, and yet it persists. With a bold claim like this, one would expect some backing for it, but alas, there is none. Could we at least get a footnote pointing to some books on atheism? Nope.

Another big problem here is that right at the start, Eller has never defined religion. It is a difficult term to define even according to scholars of religion. Classical Buddhism as an example does not hold to a deity. How is that a religion? What makes a religion? Eller doesn’t tell us. He uses the term throughout assuming we all know what it means.

From here, there is a whole lot about how Christianity interacts with culture and how culture interacts with Christianity. One problem I see with this is that this isn’t just a trait of religion. All systems do the same thing and all cultures do the same kind of thing. Secularism does the same kind of thing as it interacts and affects the culture and is affected by the culture and has its own rules and taboos even if the rule is there is no rule and the taboo is saying nothing is taboo.

One statement is that Christianity is not reasoned out and is assumed to be true without prior proof. You have to wonder how much reading has been done on this kind of topic. Early Christians were making arguments for the existence of God before atheists were really a major force around to deal with.

I wanted to cheer when I read this statement from Eller:

“As I have tried to warn readers in my previous work, the United States and the wider Western world are heavily saturated with Christianity throughout their many large and small cultural arrangements. Whether or not they know it—and it is more insidious if they do not know it—non-Christians living in Christian-dominated societies live a life permeated with Christian assumptions and premises. Christians and non-Christians alike are literally immersed in Christian cultural waters, and like fish they usually take for granted the water they swim in.”

Please let this be written in gold and shown to atheists everywhere. Let them take it in and make it a reality in their lives every day. Let them realize how much their worldview is influenced by Christianity. Let them realize this in morality. How much of what they stand on in moral issues can be demonstrated? Is Eller married to one woman and faithful to her? I do not know, but if he is, how is this established on atheism?

I have long contended that atheism today often hijacks a Christian morality as if it was obvious to everyone and then runs with it. If you are an atheist, I urge you to not believe anything unless it can be backed on atheistic grounds entirely. You may not like the system, but live it out at least.

Eller later says Christianity has a disdain for the physical and the bodily. I do not know what he’s talking about. Perhaps some do, but for me, I love the physical and the bodily. Do I need to remind you all that I am a married man? The physical body is super good! Jesus was resurrected in a body. Jesus lives in a body. Eller has confused modern Christianity and assumed it’s like ancient Christianity.

Eller also says that if religions cannot have their place in the institutions, even dominating them, they will make their own. I found this amusing since it is normally here in America the case that secularism tries to dominate religion. I always wonder about this supposed takeover of the government by religion. People wanting a theocracy are in the minority. I am convinced there will always be some corruption in every church because every church is made of corrupt people, much like every system of government.

Eller also says that since its inception, Christianity accommodated itself to its surroundings, and it had to since otherwise it would be unappealing and unintelligible. Why yes. The early Christians did this. That’s why they told the Romans there was only one God who had revealed Himself in Jesus and taught a crucified Messiah and refused to pray to the emperor.

Eller also gives a howler talking about Christianity absorbing pagan rituals such as Nordic practices of yule trees and Easter eggs. No documentation is given of any of this stuff. He also says there is ample evidence that Jesus’s birthdate was borrowed from pagan religions like Mithraism since there is no basis in Scripture for a December 25 date. We challenge Eller to please go and show the December 25 date in Mithraism with primary sources. For a claim with ample evidence, it would be nice to have seen some of it.

He also gives the claim about 38,000 denominations. Even Roman Catholic apologists are saying to not bring out this one. Statements like this lead me to believe that Eller has just as much blind faith in atheistic arguments and such as do many of the Christians he condemns.

In conclusion, of course, there is interaction. Christianity can be changed by a culture some in its presentation. When we attend an Orthodox Church, I notice the priest uses a device like a tablet for his reading. I doubt the early church was doing that. There are ways Christianity influences culture. Some good and some bad on both ends, but in the end, the fundamentals are still there and Eller says nothing to challenge those. It is just assumed that Christianity is false and we go on from there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/27/2016: Holly Ordway

What’s coming up on this week’s Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and fall out.

Christ and culture. How do the two interact? This has long been a subject of rigorous debate. There are some who want to think that we should isolate ourselves and have nothing to do with a wicked and sinful culture around us. There are some who think we should dive in full throttle and many times like to Christianize everything and before too long our bookstores are filled with what is called “Jesus junk.”

Not only those situations, but how do we interact with cultures outside of our own? While in the past, you had to leave the country, nowadays, you can just go to a different part of town with a different ethnicity that lives there and find yourself in a different culture. Here in Atlanta, I’ve seen a number of Korean churches for instance, which are no doubt a different culture. How do we interact with these?

To discuss these questions, I decided to have someone come on who is well read in the area of literature and has in fact spoken on my show on literary apologetics. She’s a Catholic Professor over at HBU and always a fascinating person to talk to. That guest is Dr. Holly Ordway. Who is she?

Ordway photo

According to her bio:

Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the MA in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014); her work focuses on imaginative apologetics and on the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams, and she is the Charles Williams Subject Editor for the Journal of Inklings Studies. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (Kent State University Press, 2019).

We’ll be discussing how Christians should interact with the culture around them. Many of us would hesitate to say that we should not have any interactions, but at the same time we can see people who can go too far in their interactions. What is the path of wisdom in these situations?

I’d also like to discuss about what aspects of the culture we can enjoy as well. Does everything have to be 100% pure? Is it wrong for a Christian to read a novel by a non-Christian and enjoy it? What about watching shows and movies that are by secularists and others? Is this a case of Romans 14 or not? How does a Christian also interact with just pleasure itself? Is it wrong to take the time to read a fantasy novel or watch a TV show or movie when we could be doing things for the Kingdom?

I hope you’ll be here this Saturday. For those wondering also, we haven’t recorded in the past few weeks since Larry Hurtado due to my being out of town for the funeral of a friend. Hopefully nothing will happen this time. Please also go to our ITunes page and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I love to see them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/23/2016: Jackson Wu

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife is a big fan of oriental stuff. She loves nearly everything that is Japanese, aside from the food. It’s my dream that one day I’ll get to take her to Japan. We can love so much about a culture in the Far East, but have we ever wondered what it would be like if we had to share the Gospel with them? These people might be just like us in their biology and such, but their culture is radically different.

For that matter, could the culture of the Bible be radically different? Could it be that when we present the Gospel, we’re presenting it in a Western package? Could that be causing distortions in evangelism? How can we communicate one Gospel in many cultures?

For that, I’m pleased to have on my show the man who wrote One Gospel For All Nations, Dr. Jackson Wu. Who is he?

Bigger Hands Focused JW NAME

Jackson has served Chinese pastors for over a decade. Presently, he is an associate professor International Chinese Theological Seminary, where he teaches theology and missiology. Previously, Jackson was a church planter, English teacher, and youth minister.

During his youth, he grew up in the southern United States. Brought up in a non-religious family, he became a Christ follower at age 15. Jackson attended Texas A&M University, where he studied applied mathematics with a minor emphasis in economics. He also earned a Master of Arts in Philosophy from Texas A&M, writing his thesis on the theology undergirding the thought of Soren Kierkegaard. Later, he gained his MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a PhD from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He published his first book in the Evangelical Missiological Society dissertation series. It is titled Saving God’s Face: A Chinese Contextualization of Salvation through Honor and Shame. In 2015, William Carey Library published Jackson’s second book, One Gospel for All Nations: A Practical Approach to Biblical Contextualization. In a forthcoming book with IVP, he will explore how honor-shame influence our understanding of Paul’s letter to the Romans. His articles have appeared in both missiological and theological journals. A few selected titles include “Paul Writes to the Greek First and also to the Jew”, “There are No Church Planting Movements in the Bible”, and “Why has the Church Lost Face?”

Jackson is particularly concerned about theological contextualization. By understanding how the Bible uses honor and shame, he wants to equip the church to contextualize the gospel in a way that is both biblically faithful and culturally meaningful.

He consistently writes on his blog jacksonwu.org. He is a regular blogger for Training Leaders International, and has guest written for Scot McKnight, Ed Stetzer, and the Missio blog. He serves on the steering committee for the Asian-Asian-American Theology Consultation for the Evangelical Theological Society. His also offers Chinese resources for free at wu-rong.org. People can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

We’ll be discussing how people in the Far East see the Gospel and how the Gospel that brings us good news in America and the West can bring good news to those in the Far East. We will discuss cultural differences that can be barriers to evangelism. We’ll also discuss what it means to save God’s face. Are we embarrassing God or what?

I hope you’ll be listening!

In Christ,
Nick Peters